The challenge of storing ever-growing volumes of digital content is one that is familiar to both businesses and consumers. For the small to medium enterprise (SME) this challenge is compounded by the need not only to cater to high storage demand, but also provide secure, centralised storage that offer access for all company users, writes Kalvin Subbadu, sales manager: components at WD South Africa.
As a result, network attached storage (NAS) has become a popular solution. However, demand for storage continues to rise, and SMEs are faced with a dilemma – purchasing further NAS enclosures is a costly task, and yet with a limited number of drive bays, this has been the only option for increasing storage capacity. Fortunately, hard drive manufacturers have taken heed of this growing issue, and higher capacity hard drives are now available, extending the capacity of a NAS enclosure and helping SMEs to stretch their investment to the fullest.
According to statistics on a number of different Internet sites, 90% of the world’s data was generated in the last two years, and the data explosion is showing no signs of slowing down. If anything, as more and more devices become connected in what is becoming known as the Internet of Things, data growth will only continue to accelerate at an unprecedented pace. In addition, since data is critical to business today, backup is also vital, requiring even more storage capacity. Adequate data storage is therefore an essential business tool for organisations of all sizes.
Within the SME space, keeping pace with data growth has often meant simply purchasing additional hard drives as and when needed in order to keep up with demand. However, this typically leads to a situation where data storage is fragmented, and businesses have no idea which data is stored where, how old the data is, or even if the hard drives are still functioning. Increasingly onerous data compliance laws, which require organisations to keep data for certain time periods, not to mention the introduction of new legislation such as the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act, highlight the problem with this approach. The majority of these laws not only require organisations to store the data, but also to locate it should this be necessary. With fragmented storage, this is a difficult process. In addition, fragmentation makes adequate backup and recovery difficult, putting SMEs at risk of data loss events.
Centralised storage options have therefore grown in popularity within the SME market, most particularly NAS solutions that allow users to incorporate  multiple hard drives in a NAS enclosure for increased storage capacity, added redundancy and storage failover. However, demand for storage is insatiable, meaning that many organisations that already have NAS storage are once again running out of capacity. That is where new, larger capacity drives become a crucial asset.
NAS-optimised hard drives are now available in capacities of up to 6TB per drive, where previous generation storage offered only 4TB. This means that in a typical SME NAS enclosure, which has up to five drive bays, total storage capacity can now be increased from 20TB up to 30TB, a total increase in capacity of 50%. This additional storage can be used to keep up with growing demand, or create an environment where data is duplicated across more than one hard drive for backup and data redundancy purpose.
When it comes to storing digital content, SMEs are faced with many challenges, including capacity, reliability, and the physical space taken up by storage solutions. An ad hoc approach to storage often results in fragmented solutions, making access to data as well as backup and recovery a challenge. NAS solutions coupled with larger capacity hard drives help to increase storage without increasing the physical footprint of storage, helping SMEs to keep up with demand and future-proof their storage. Newly available larger capacity hard drives make NAS the ultimate storage solution for the SME.